It’s Been A Year

On June 4, 2013, it will be a year since Herschell died. I find it hard to believe that all that time has passed. As with any loss, some days went by slowly and others quickly.  The incredible part of losing him has been my feeling like a part has been removed from my soul.

Herschell-young_dog-and_meDuring these last few weeks, I find myself glancing at the calendar or clock. I know this important milestone is approaching and I hope to honor the date in some special way. I know Jack will help me to commemorate it along with our Henrietta.

At different times over this year, I have moved a piece of furniture, gone into my closet and swept under the bed.  Remnants of his shiny gray fur drift up from a cleaning cloth.  Months after his death, I placed his collar on a little shelf with strands of his fur still clinging to it. Sad, but comforting to me, I gently touched these mementoes remembering his handsome body.

When we travel, I always go into my study to say goodbye to him and always upon returning say hello.  His little wooden box sits on a shelf devoted to his pictures, sympathy cards, and favorite toys.  Again, this ritual provides comfort in this deep loss. Visual reminders, after someone dies, give us here on earth something tangible to hold. I believe these are gifts from God.

When my mother died, the cardinal became a symbol to my family. When my friend’s dog lost his battle with cancer, a ladybug appeared frequently in his absence. When John died, I found comfort in the sunset and sunrises.  For a while, I would sit in our sunroom and watch the sunset each evening. When the moon shone brightly, I found happiness knowing its white streamers of light shown on his grave a few miles away.

Perhaps  Herschell’s “signs” have been more subtle. The joy we feel with Henrietta’s recovery and becoming an “only dog” is a great feeling.  When she runs about the house like a puppy, I can almost see him chasing her. Yesterday, she pounced on a new toy tossing it in the air just like he did. These fun moments are abundant lately.  Maybe Herschell is disguised in those special times!

When I was decorating for Christmas, I hung his stocking up as in years past. On Christmas morning, I know he was there watching as Henrietta tore into her Puppy Pepperonis.  I plan to hang his stocking up for every Christmas.  We all were family…and still are but in different ways.

This morning, I pay tribute to Herschell. I believe, I will always miss him. Knowing that someday we will meet on the Rainbow Bridge is comforting.  Until then, I have lots of living to do, lots of dog walking ahead and perhaps down the road…a new puppy, full of Herschell’s spirit.  We will see!

 

About the Author

Maryann Hartzell-Curran, a retired educator and counselor, has written a personal account of her journey through the first year of grieving the loss of her husband in her book, “From We to Me,” to help support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Maryann founded a successful family therapy practice and taught in the public and private sectors. She also founded and directed a church-based preschool in Lombard, Ill., and gained experience working with the elderly as director of a senior dining center. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in counseling from Illinois Benedictine University.

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